Social protection has significantly gained prominence in the international development debate. It is a key tool for the eradication of poverty, for the reduction of vulnerability and for the limitation of rising income inequality. Apart from this, however, social protection also has an economic and a political function: Its pure existence encourages people to become economically active and accept additional risks related to investments in physical and human capital. And, by alleviating peoples’ concerns about the future, social protection can also contribute to social inclusion, social cohesion and political and social stability. The question is thus why social protection still plays a rather limited role as a field of international development co-operation and why it has attracted attention by the international development debate only recently. Shouldn’t governments and donors invest much more systematically in the development of social protection schemes that respond to the respective needs and capacities of people in different countries? The social protection floor initiative of the ILO and other international organisations provides a basis and orientation for such an engagement. Many developing countries have already started to implement first elements of such an initiative with great success. And how should social protection best be integrated into the forthcoming international post-2015 agenda – as a separate goal, as an element of another goal or as an instrument for achieving several of the goals?